Internships cost more than meets the eye
Seton Hall University prides itself in offering students vast internship opportunities in New York City, Newark and Jersey City. Students are encouraged to pursue an internship in their University career and in some majors, such as Diplomacy, internships are a requirement.
But getting paid for the work students do in those internships is not.
“We want students to intern because we know all the reasons that it helps them be successful, the contacts they make, the networking, and what this will lead them to in the future,” said Reesa Greenwald, director of the Career Center, “but we can’t control what the employer’s policy is.”
With many internships being unpaid, on a volunteer basis, or often lower paying than a job on campus or in town, whether or not the experience is priceless is something many students have to consider.
Greenwald added regarding unpaid internships, “We are in touch with intern employers on a regular basis and we are trying to turn this around and have the employers understand students’ needs and reality. We want students to earn a salary for their work and we believe they should and this is what we’re fighting for, but it’s not right to deprive the students of unpaid internships. We want the students to decide for themselves instead of the Career Center making a policy about it.”
John Simeone, a senior political science major, said that the cost of commuting to his internship is reasonable. He works normal business hours and it costs him $4.50 daily to take NJ Transit. If he drives to his internship, it costs him $9 alone for parking in addition to paying for gasoline.
Transportation is one of the biggest expenses students have when accepting an internship. While some employers try to repay students for their cost of travelling to their internships, many do not.
The fare for PATH trains is $2.75 and there are no student discounts. But the PATH line’s SmartLink card is an option for students who ride the trains frequently.
The SmartLink is loaded with 10, 20 or 40 trips. Each fare comes out to $2.10 per ride, which in the end can amount to big savings. There are also 1, 7, and 30 day unlimited passes for students who might have to travel back and forth multiple times a day.
NJ Transit, by contrast, does offer student discounts. Full time college students can save 25 percent on their monthly passes if they use NJ Transit to commute to particular schools, including Seton Hall. For student interns, however, the restrictions are more rigid.
According to the NJ Transit website, “Student interns that attend a NJ TRANSIT accredited school in New Jersey, New York or Pennsylvania may purchase a student monthly pass as long as the internship is through the school as part of the program to obtain a degree, and it is an unpaid internship. Students must submit a letter, written on the school letterhead stating that the internship is a required part of the school program to obtain the student’s degree.”
Public transportation can sometimes be unreliable. Delays, cancellations and interruptions like the potential NJ Transit strike can often cause students to be unexpectedly late, or not show up at all.
Commuting by car is more flexible. For commuting students who already have a car and use it to come to and from campus, the additional costs include extra gasoline spent to get to an internship and potential parking fees at the location. Daily parking in downtown Newark can only be found in lots, with prices starting at $9 per day and exceeding more than $20 depending on the time and place.
Victoria Lai, a senior social and behavioral sciences and sociology major, said that through internships student get a “hands-on” experience on fields they consider entering after graduation.
Lai said that she has had two internships, one unpaid and one paid. She added that the unpaid internship led her to have to work a paying job while interning 15 hours a week.
She said that she currently spends $20 a week driving from her apartment to her internship in Newark.
For students who live on campus and otherwise would not keep a car on campus except for their , the additional cost of a student-parking pass can be hefty. A resident permit will set students back $185 for one semester, $350 for both fall and spring. If students decide to take a summer internship and remain on campus, they would need to pay for housing and parking for spring and summer sessions, an additional $229, according to the SHU website.
The Career Center offers many resources for getting internships and preparing for them. A Career Fair will be held in the Richie Regan Athletic Center on March 16. Students are encouraged to stop by anytime between 4 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. where more than 100 employers will be looking for interns in all fields.
Daniela Geraldo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org